Matthew Norman's Media Diary

Adam, Anji, and the end of an era
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The Independent Online

SELDOM SINCE the Marriage at Cana has there been a wedding that demanded capturing on canvas by the genius of a Veronese such as the one held nine days ago. I refer not to the nuptials of Ant out of Ant and Dec and Lisa Armstrong in Buckinghamshire, lustrous media event though that was, but to the wedlock of Adam Boulton and Anji Hunter. Week after week I bang on about the hyper-incestuous links between New Labour and Rupert Murdoch, until any remaining readers feel physically ill with boredom. And here at St James's Church, Piccadilly, we found this worrying fixation brought to life, venerated and sanctified in the sight of the Lord... the marriage of Sky's top political performer to Mr Tony Blair's close friend and erstwhile gatekeeper at Number 10. Tony was there, of course, to lead all the old gang - Tessa, Blunkers, Charlie Clarke, John Reid, Mandy and the rest - in one last hurrah, mingling with such cherished business partners from News Corporation as Rebekah Wade of The Sun and many of Rupert's senior excecutives. If ever there was a day to burst with pride at our media-political élite, this was it. And yet one can hardly touch on the event without mentioning the almost unbearable sense of sadness. That it happened not five years ago in Mr Blair's pomp, but now when the game is so nearly up... excuse me if I take a moment to compose myself. Suffice it to say that what took place nine days ago will live for ever as a fin de siècle snapshot of exquisite poignancy, the wedding photos capturing for eternity the dying days of a political class well aware that - regardless of Mr Blair's prostrations before Rupert this weekend at Pebble Beach - the News Corp caravan is poised to move on.

MEANWHILE, THE attitude of Murdoch titles towards swearing continues to bemuse. The Times, which boldly printed all four letters of the word "shit" in quoting George W Bush's delicately nuanced analysis of the Middle East crisis, last week contrived an "a*se". As for the Sharia Law scholar Kelvin McKenzie, he's got himself into the most frightful pickle. In his Sun column a few weeks ago, Kelvin had an apoplexy over Jonathan Ross using the word "wank" during the David Cameron interview that went out late at night to an adult audience. Yet last week, in a title that supports its claims to being a family newspaper by achieving a reading age of 11, Kelvin offered this hilarity: "I hear John Prescott was incensed earlier this week when he thought he saw his name written on a loaf of bread. On taking a second look he realised it said 'Thick cut'." For goodness sake, man, this is a paper that regards itself as every mother's pride. Whatever's a mum supposed to tell a 10-year-old who demands an explanation of this Wildean thrust? Mm?

MORE worries, meanwhile, for Mary Ann Sieghart, whose recent misfortune with a bee sting intrigued and delighted us in equal measure. The latest crisis is heatwave-induced sleeplessness, and she reports herself "pie-eyed with fatigue". If Mary Ann is looking for a remedy, I believe I can help. According to clinical trials in south-east Asia and the Pacific Rim, the most effective chemical-free solution to heat-induced insomnia is to settle down with a pile of cuttings bearing the byline of her colleague Peter Riddell.

I AM INCREASINGLY worried, finally, about the powers of comprehension exhibited by Daily Mirror sub-editors. "Tories: Not Fit to Run the Country" ran a headline above the words "... and that's the verdict of a top Tory MP". A glance at the leaked remarks revealed that what Peter Luff actually said was: "One important obstacle to victory is the way other people see us... We are still not trusted to be able to govern." Perhaps I'm being obtuse here, but there seems a wide enough gulf between Mr Luff referring to the perception of his party and stating that perception as his own opinion to negate the danger of having his words wilfully misinterpreted by rejects from the backbench of the Trumpton Times.